Ukraine bounced back from their opening defeat at Euro 2020 as they held on to beat tournament debutants North Macedonia in an entertaining encounter in Bucharest.
Having fought back from two goals down before ultimately losing 3-2 to the Netherlands on Sunday, Andriy Shevchenko’s side ended a run of six successive European Championship defeats to remain in contention in Group C.
Captain Andriy Yarmolenko capitalised on poor defending from a corner after 28 minutes, before the West Ham forward’s pass set up Roman Yaremchuk, who slotted neatly into the bottom corner five minutes later.
Leeds United’s Ezgjan Alioski followed up his own saved penalty to hand a much-improved North Macedonia a second-half lifeline, but they could not find an equaliser despite goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski saving Ruslan Malinovskiy’s penalty in the closing stages.
Ukraine were one defeat away from recording the longest losing streak in the competition’s history and, having been the first side to be eliminated at Euro 2016, they made their early dominance count to avoid a similar fate in a lively contest.
Dimitrievski turned away a fierce shot from Malinovskiy and Stefan Ristovski produce a fine sliding challenge to stop Yaremchuk before Yarmolenko’s deserved breakthrough.
Napoli forward Eljif Elmas, 21, hit the side-netting from close range with a rare first-half chance for the Macedonians, while veteran striker Goran Pandev had a well-taken goal ruled out for offside before half-time.
Igor Angelovski’s side, the lowest-ranked at Euro 2020, rallied after the restart and Arijan Ademi forced a fine save from Georgi Bushchan before Oleksandr Karavaev conceded Alioski’s spot-kick for fouling Pandev.
After Viktor Tsygankov had spurned a glorious chance, Ukraine were handed another opportunity to seal victory when Daniel Avramovski was penalised for handball in the box – but Dimitrievski’s fine save kept the game in the balance.
After their first appearance at a major tournament ended in a 3-1 defeat by Austria, North Macedonia will be eliminated if the Netherlands avoid defeat against Austria later on Thursday (20:00 BST).
Ukraine meet Austria and North Macedonia face the Netherlands in the final round of Group C games, with both matches taking place on Monday at 17:00.
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- 10ShaparenkoBooked at 43minsSubstituted forSydorchukat 78′minutes
- 7YarmolenkoSubstituted forTsygankovat 70′minutes
- 9YaremchukSubstituted forBesedinat 70′minutes
- 8MalinovskiySubstituted forSobolat 90+2′minutes
- 14VelkovskiBooked at 59minsSubstituted forTrichkovskiat 85′minutes
- 16NikolovSubstituted forTrajkovskiat 45′minutes
- 20SpirovskiSubstituted forChurlinovat 45′minutes
- 17BardhiSubstituted forAvramovskiat 77′minutesBooked at 83mins
- 5AdemiSubstituted forRistevskiat 85′minutes
- Fernando Rapallini
Match ends, Ukraine 2, North Macedonia 1.
Second Half ends, Ukraine 2, North Macedonia 1.
Attempt missed. Aleksandar Trajkovski (North Macedonia) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.
Offside, Ukraine. Viktor Tsygankov tries a through ball, but Artem Besedin is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Aleksandar Trajkovski (North Macedonia) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Darko Churlinov.
Attempt missed. Daniel Avramovski (North Macedonia) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Aleksandar Trajkovski with a cross.
Substitution, Ukraine. Eduard Sobol replaces Ruslan Malinovskiy.
Oleksandr Karavaev (Ukraine) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Daniel Avramovski (North Macedonia).
Corner, North Macedonia. Conceded by Illia Zabarnyi.
Foul by Taras Stepanenko (Ukraine).
Daniel Avramovski (North Macedonia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Ruslan Malinovskiy (Ukraine) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Artem Besedin.
Substitution, North Macedonia. Kire Ristevski replaces Arijan Ademi.
Substitution, North Macedonia. Ivan Trichkovski replaces Darko Velkovski.
Penalty saved! Ruslan Malinovskiy (Ukraine) fails to capitalise on this great opportunity, left footed shot saved in the bottom left corner.
Daniel Avramovski (North Macedonia) is shown the yellow card for hand ball.
VAR Decision: Penalty Ukraine.
Attempt blocked. Ruslan Malinovskiy (Ukraine) left footed shot from long range on the right is blocked.
Penalty conceded by Daniel Avramovski (North Macedonia) with a hand ball in the penalty area.